Tripod Wine Cup (Jue)
Shang dynasty (c. 1700 - c. 1050 B.C.E.)
7.5 x 6.5 x 4 inches
The rich patina of this ritual wine cup, developed over centuries, adds to the beauty of the elegant form. The perfectly balanced tripod legs carefully held the bowl over hot embers, gently warming the spirits contained within. When warmed sufficiently, the wine flowed effortlessly through the spout into a special beaker, called a gu. Both jue and gu were part of a significant ceremony to honor one's ancestors. A pictogram, an early Chinese form of writing, under the jue's handle may have indicated a family name or the name of the person who commissioned the piece or even the ancestor's name to be memorialized. It may also contain information such as date and place of audience, officials present, edict of investiture, individual thanks and resolve to cast such a vessel, and wishes for long life.
Art Institute of Chicago, object 1950.1622
Weichao, pp. 112-131
Willets, p. 79
--K. Johnson Bowles, 2006, Reflecting Centuries of Beauty: The Rowe Collection of Chinese Art